Faltering small businesses and a stagnant job market cannot afford to wait for Washington to remedy what ails the U.S. economy, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street”on Thursday.
Schultz — who has decried the lack of bipartisanship in the nation’s capital and recently undertook an effort to starve politicians of campaign contributions — touted his “Create Jobs for USA” initiative designed to jumpstart job creation. He said the effort has raised about $100 million in low-cost interest loans for small businesses. (Read more:Starbucks Tries to Jolt the Economy.)
While Schultz avoided endorsing any specific candidates or initiatives, he said “we can’t wait for government solutions. We can’t wait for the political people who are in power to do the right thing because unfortunately, we’re facing a situation where there’s so much polarization.”
Saying that small businesses are “the engine of job creation in America,” the coffee giant’s CEO said that this sector of the economy is being deprived of access to badly needed credit. “The level of fluidity in terms of money flowing to small businesses that could create jobs is not happening.”
Schultz drew a stark contrast with Europe and China, saying that the winded condition of the two global economic heavyweights increased the urgency for America to fix its own economy. He exhorted Washington to “seize the opportunity” of fixing the U.S.’s economic stagnation.
Last year, the Starbucks chief spearheaded a campaign to spark bipartisan cooperation by encouraging business leaders to not give money to political campaigns. He said that although those CEOs have been released from that pledge, it hasn’t had the desired effect on Republican and Democratic leaders. (Read more: Boycott Political Contributions to Congress: Starbucks CEO.)
With the onset of Election Day, “unfortunately we’re not seeing the level of civility or respect that we need,” Schultz said, as he avoided commenting on Wednesday's political debate between President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.
Instead, he focused on the massive challenges facing the economy.
“We’re facing the fiscal cliff, the debt ceiling debacle that we saw a year ago is still hanging over the country," Schultz said. "We have serious problem.”
-By Javier E. David, CNBC News Writer